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How sleep, or a lack of it, affects productivity

March 14, 2018

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The switch to daylight saving time last weekend may result in more yawning in the office and a potential dip in productivity. It’s amazing the effect that losing one hour of sleep can have on us.  Are you or your employees dragging this week?

According to a survey from CareerBuilder, 1 in 4 workers (26%) feel they do not get enough sleep each night, and 60% of all workers say that a lack of sleep has negatively impacted their work. Nearly half of all workers (47%) say thinking about work keeps them up at night. 

While eight hours may be the doctor-recommended amount of sleep time each night, less than 1 in 5 workers (17%) say they reach this goal. Half of workers (52%) log an average of five to seven hours of sleep each night, while 6% average less than five hours per night.

For some workers, hitting the snooze button in attempt to sleep a little bit longer just isn’t enough. One in five workers (22%) have called in sick to get extra sleep.

“As Americans work extended hours, routinely take work home, and juggle two or more jobs on top of long commutes, sleep has become a casualty of the race for time,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “But lack of sleep undermines performance and can create a vicious cycle of working more hours to compensate for diminished productivity and having less time to sleep. Employers can take steps to make sure their workers are getting enough sleep, such as by tweaking night shift schedules or imposing limits on consecutive shifts. They can also have wellness initiatives that encourage workers to go to sleep at the same time every night and create a relaxing bedroom environment.”
29% of workers report falling asleep or becoming very sleepy at work, and a lack of sleep costs the United States $63 billion each year in lost productivity.

Lack of Sleep Affects Productivity
Three in five workers (60%) say lack of sleep has had an impact on their work in some way, including the following:

  • It makes the day go by slower: 29%
  • It makes me less motivated: 27%
  • It makes me less productive: 25%
  • It affects my memory: 19%
  • It takes me longer to complete tasks: 13%
  • It makes me crabby with my coworkers: 13%
  • It makes me make mistakes: 12%
  • It makes me resent my job: 8%

A significant proportion of workers can’t seem to escape work, even while they’re sleeping. 65% reported that they have dreamed about work at one time, with more than 13% saying it happens always or often.

Strange Work Dreams 
When asked the craziest work dream they’ve had, workers said the following:

  • Tyrannosaurus rex worked at my office.
  •  showed up to work three hours late, and I was only half dressed. That was OK though, because we have a relaxed dress code. The problem was I had not realized the Queen of England was visiting, and I felt embarrassed.
  • I work with software. While I was pregnant, I had a dream that I had to upload my unborn baby at the end of every day, or she’d lose her development for the day.
  • My coworker had a baby but wrapped it in a burrito wrapper.
  • I was naked getting ready to get on a roller coaster while trying to reconcile an account I’m working on.
  • My boss and I were mowing a lawn in the clouds on a go-kart.
  • My boss adopted me and my coworkers. He got us housing and took us shopping.
  • Famous people worked with me in place of my coworkers.
  • I drove the forklift home from work.
  • I opened a “bank and brew” where customers, after doing their banking business, had a choice of craft beers and tapas.

Nap rooms are the newest fad to hit the workplace, and workers are open to it.  38% would take advantage of a designated nap room if offered at their place of work.  Employers are starting to catch on to the value of nap rooms.  Zappos is one example. They have had a nap room at their Las Vegas, Nevada, headquarters since they launched. “It was born from our focus on employee happiness and wellness,” says a representative. “We know how much sleep impacts well-being.” The rooms are available 24/7 and are especially frequented by those on staff who work overnight shifts.  

Employers with night shift workers should take special care to inform their employees of the importance of getting enough sleep.  Night shift workers have the extra effort of fighting their bodies natural circadian rhythms. If an employee bounces between shifts, their must be enough days between shifts (normally 2-3) for their rhythms to adjust.

Promoting healthy sleep through wellness initiatives can help keep your workforce healthy and productive.

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